My truck is a 2005 Ford Expedition. It’s an Eddie Bauer edition, so in reality it is a Lincoln Navigator with a Ford badge on it. That’s actually important to know when buying Chilton’s or Hayne’s Repair Books….because I spent a good bit of time wondering why their Expedition pictures never matched up with what was under my hood. It confused the heck out of me for awhile. While it’s fancy, it’s an older model. It does not have Automatic Highbeams. And I am certainly OK with that.
I live out in the country and, growing up in the City, we drivers in the country use our high beams A LOT. Far more than in the city. One thing that always got me was that I can see a car’s headlights in oncoming traffic before they come over the hill and into view. This means that I know when to turn my high beams off just before they get into view, I don’t need to blind them at all. However, I have noticed that the majority of people do not offer me this convenience. I get 1 of 4 responses, ranked in order of frequency: The oncoming car waits until AFTER I’m in view to turn their lights off, meaning I get blinded for a second. The second group is people who never have their brights on in the first place. The third most popular group is the people who really do turn their lights down before I get blinded – thank you, nice people! The fourth is the worst, people who just leave their super-sunglow eyeball melters on the whole time. Some of them turn them down when I flash mine, because, you know, people forget sometimes. Others ignore and keep on driving – these people are on auto-pilot. Few still reduce their lights to show one headlight out, then back up to show they are “blind-everyone-because-you-are-too-lazy-to-spend-5-minutes-and-$2-to-change-a-bulb” type of driver. No, thank you.
But this weekend, we were driving home from Indiana, visiting family for the holidays….and I am driving my wife’s Chrysler Town and Country. It’s a newer model and pretty fancy. It has automatic High Beams. So all these people who, I thought, were waiting until I came into view to turn their headlights down? Most of them have the newer auto headlights….and they rely on the auto feature to be aware for them. That’s not good. Some just get to turning the headlights down a little late or couldn’t see the oncoming traffic until it’s right there.
See, we are the drivers and we are responsible for everything that vehicle does or doesn’t do. A driver is supposed to be aware of himself and his surroundings. Surroundings like other drivers, or people in houses that have windows. The following are examples of drivers who “go through the motions” of doing the correct thing, but are unaware of other people and, thus, are incorrect/unsafe drivers:
-People who leave highbeams on while parked. Sure, no oncoming traffic, but you just woke up little Jimmy at 2 AM by shining mega-wattage into his bedroom window that is right in front of you in plain view 10 feet away. Or in the Meijer parking lot where Grandma just hit a shopping cart after being blinded by Jim Bob’s Ram Charger’s Bazillion Lumen off road headlights.
-Drivers who use their turn signal as they change lanes or as they turn. No. We already see you are changing lanes, it does no one any good at that time. Turn Signals are meant to warn other people before you turn or change lanes that you are planning on turning/changing lanes. It’s absolutely useless to use turn signals when you are already crossing the lanes. You do it BEFORE you move, so we can know what you are planning.
-People who rely on their cars “safety systems” to do their job for them. I have a blind spot indicator….and I won’t trust that thing ever. Because if I do trust it, it’s when the President’s Motorcade is passing me and I just smacked into Limo 1 because it decided to not work. Its the same with auto headlights. These folks are still blinding me, if only for a second. But that second could be when I deer jumps out. Or a dog. Or a kid. It’s basic common courtesy.
So why am I covering this on a Firearms blog? Easy. You are only as good as your training is. If you drive like you think you are aware of the other people on the road, but don’t act like it, chances are you will act that way all the time. Meaning, you are aware of walking into a house with a concealed pistol. But are you aware of how that may affect other people? Some people don’t want any firearms in their houses. OK, a house may be a bad idea. How about a store? You’ve walked into hundred’s of stores, some may not have clearly marked the entrance with a “no guns allowed” sign. Or you are walking into a crowd of people, aware of the crowd but not aware of the threats it may present because you really are not aware.
To be secure, we need to know not just our environment, but how we interact with our environment. Some CPL carriers have some witty warning or curse words in their pre-planned shouted warning before they shoot. Or that “Muslims will kill you” bumper sticker, how that might cause trouble in some environments. A jury might not like your M-Fer barrage at someone who looked like a threat to you.
Far more CPL carriers get into trouble drawing too quickly than too late. Largely because they were not aware enough to determine what is or isn’t a threat. We have to pay attention all the time. Even when we drive. That’s why auto high beams can be a detriment to the CPL carrier, they reduce our need to be aware if we rely on them.